Red wine is an unending adventure, with infinite types, varietals, and textures --not to mention antioxidants and a molecule called resveratrol which may, in fact (according to the Mayo clinic and other sources) be "heart healthy." But let's be honest with each other here: we don't really drink red wine to be healthy. The health benefit is really just another excuse to indulge in that fabulous, decadent, end-of-the-day lifesaver: a big fat glass of red wine.
The juice of red or black wine grapes is clear on pressing; reds get their color from the skins. Generally, the longer the skins sit in the pressed juice, the darker the wine. (Although different varieties take on different tones and depths of red color too, from brick to eggplant, running right through cherry and magenta.) You can even make a white wine of red grapes (which is rare) or a blush wine (which is not as rare) by separating the juice sooner than later.
Red wines inspire all kinds of descriptions, from the literal to the fanciful. They may be sweet or dry (not sweet), have more or less acid or tannins, or include aromas from flowers to fruit to mushroom or even gravel (as if we all go around licking gravel and know what that tastes like). You'll hear about wines that are "silky" "robust" "powerful" and "well-structured," or even "impertinent" or "demanding."
If you drink a lot of red wine, this will all make sense to you. If not, it's likely to sound pretentious and snooty. Don't let it put you off. Just remember the essential: a glass of red can make you happy to be alive.
One major quality of a red is it's "body" (like people, right?). Body is a result of the wine's tannins (a type of molecule that wine shares with tea) which have an odd quality of making the mouth feel "dry." Tannins add a touch of sophistication—a slight astringency and complexity to the wine. Super Tuscans and California Cabernet Sauvignons are generally considered "full-bodied" reds. Merlot and Chianti are generally more medium-bodied, while something like a Beaujolais is considered "light"
Traditionally, reds go together with meats, pasta, and "heartier" meals but as a rule, you're sound as a pound if you just put a bottle on the table and surround yourself with good friends. If you want to learn more about red wine (and who doesn't?) learn more about some of the major varieties by exploring the links below:
|Pinot Noir||Italian Red|
|Bordeaux Blend||Red Blend/Other|
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